Hear: One of Leo Fender’s First Musical Instruments

October 2018

Among the gems in the first-ever Fretboard Journal Electric Annual comes from Fender collector and researcher Lynn Wheelwright. He shares the story of one of Leo Fender’s earliest musical instrument projects, an an amplifier and lap steel taken from Leo’s hands in his driveway by a then-eight year-old boy in late 1942. Wheelwright ended up purchasing the Fender-built lap steel and amp from that boy, decades later.

Beyond the must-read story, Wheelwright went one further: He took the Vibro-branded lap steel and amp into a studio so we could hear them. Listen to a little bit of Fender history right here.

For the clean tracks, the guitar is going into the instrument input. The “dirty” tracks feature the instruments plugged into the Mic channel, which is the only channel the volume controls. (There are two instrument inputs and one mic input on this amp.)

Note: No effects were added but he did have the amp going to a more modern cabinet as the original speaker leaves a bit to be desired.


Recorded at Hell of a drop studio in Ogden, Utah.

Dan Weldon is wearing the black jacket with white piping.  Ryan Hawthorn has on the Jason Isbell shirt. This was recorded at “Hell of a drop studio” in Ogden, Utah.